Valparaiso is not a big city, and it never will be. It is very much like the kind of midwestern town you see in the movies. There is a nice downtown area that has a lot of small coffee shops and specialty stores, however the shopping mall that most students go to is in Merrillville, 20 minutes down the road. Valpo's downtown may only keep you busy for a little while, but visiting some of those shops just once doesn’t do them justice as they beg to have you wander through them again and again. Also, Valpo has quite a few restaurants that are fun to eat at every once in awhile.
In the beginning of the year, the city celebrates the Popcorn Festival in which the streets are closed off so vendors can set up tents everywhere. There is a variety of food and gifts that can be bought, and it is a great way to get to know new people since it is within the first few weeks of school. If there is anything you do not find in Valpo, Merrillville is the next best bet up the road. A little further away is the big city life of Chicago.
Whether by car or by train, it takes a little over an hour to get into the Windy City. Chicago has everything you could possibly think of with sports teams, concerts, theaters, museums, and shopping. Visiting the city never gets old, and many students will go for the day or indulge in a weekend in the city. Union Board offers many events and trips into the city as well. Valpo is the perfect place to have a small town feel while going to school, but the bigger city with more exciting nightlife is not terribly far down the road.